Supercomputers

Sarah Boden / 90.5 WESA

Regular computers, including smart phones, can do a lot of cool stuff, but some datasets are so big that normal PCs just don’t cut it. When that’s the case, many researchers turn to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, which is planning to construct a faster, stronger machine next year.

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

Supercomputers are pretty much what they sound like: bigger, faster and more sophisticated than any Mac or PC. 

Michael Henninger / CMU

Supercomputers help people crunch big data in a number of fields, from research to weather forecasting, but not everyone has access to one or the technical savvy to make it work. Though, a new supercomputer could offer more access.

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center just launched the second phase of its supercomputing system, called “Bridges,” last week. It’s among the largest supercomputers in the U.S., but according to Pittsburgh Supercomputing Senior Director of Research Nick Nystrom, it is probably the most democratic one available.

The National Science Foundation has awarded $9.65 million to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Monday to create a user-friendly supercomputer called “Bridges.”

Unlike other systems that require users to login, punch in commands using specialized computing skills and wait a few days for the results, Bridges allows scientists and researchers to access the database online through a series of portals, which Nick Nystrom, director of strategic applications at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, said leads to a more fluid experience.